Making waves in aquaculture – Fishfarmer Magazine

Making waves in aquaculture23 May, 2014 –

A NEW wave energy device, created by Scottish marine energy company AlbaTERN, has been installed off the Isle of Muck on Scotland’s west coast.

The innovative collaboration between renewable energy and aquaculture has seen a WaveNET device sited at Marine Harvest’s latest salmon farm off Muck, which is due to be stocked with salmon in the summer.

The WaveNET device – which consists of the world’s first coupled array of three units known as Squids – has already undergone preparatory trials at the dry dock at Kishorn Port.

These trials were very useful prior to the open sea deployment, but this is the first chance to assess the technology in a real life situation.

And, as AlbaTERN Chief Financial Officer David Campbell explains: ‘This is a hugely significant milestone for us, but we still have quite a long way to go.

‘The next few months will allow us to test the devices in the water and assess both their generating performance and their ability to survive and operate reliably in what can be a very hostile marine environment.’

The purpose of WaveNET is to assist in generating electricity for the running of the salmon farm which relies on a diesel generator.

The first two Squids underwent pre-deployment testing at the dry dock at Kishorn, having been transported there by Ferguson Transport, before being taken by boat to the site.

The third device was transported to Mallaig and taken from there to the Isle of Muck farm.

David Campbell explained: ‘We were very lucky to be able to use the dry dock at Kishorn for testing the device.

‘With the very challenging weather in December and the early part of 2014 this facility allowed operations to continue which would have been almost impossible anywhere else.

‘In fact this whole project has been an example of great partnership between many of the key players in Lochaber business. The moorings contractor was Mallaig Marine and Marine Harvest is of course a huge player both locally and further afield. 

‘HebNet have assisted us with integrating communications systems into their Small Isles Wireless Broadband network, and the FAI Ardtoe Marine Research Facility hosts the base station for our wave measurement buoy.

‘The islanders on Muck and Eigg have also been very interested and helpful to us in carrying out this project.’

The moorings were supplied by Inverness-based Gael Force Marine, who are partners with AlbaTERN, and Orkney company Aquatera, in a project to demonstrate wave energy applied to offshore aquaculture.

The testing of the device will take place over the next six months. And, if successful, similar devices could be rolled out across other suitable farms for Marine Harvest Scotland and other salmon farming companies. 

Chris Read, Environmental Manager of Marine Harvest Scotland, welcomed the development, saying: ‘We are always looking to innovate and this is a great opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint and support a developing technology.

‘We’re delighted to be involved and we look forward to seeing the results of the testing phase. It’s particularly good to see so many local businesses involved in the process.’

The WaveNET array is held in place by a mooring system at the end of the mooring system for the farm pens, and within the existing mooring footprint. 

The generators work by capturing the motion from the wave energy through hydraulic rams and a marinised hydraulic motor and generator set to produce the electricity.